How to Get a Personal Loan in 8 Steps

How to Get a Personal Loan (photo:

It is worth considering obtaining a personal loan from a traditional bank, credit union, or online lender. These types of unsecured loans can assist you in overcoming financial difficulties, paying for unforeseen expenses, paying off debts more quickly, or making a large purchase.

There are several types of personal loans available, such as debt consolidation loans, home improvement loans, medical loans, and wedding loans. Even though the loan application process is relatively straightforward, it is important to know what to expect beforehand in order to avoid any unexpected surprises.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is a specific amount of money that you can borrow from different sources, including traditional banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You pay back the loan in fixed monthly payments, along with interest. Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning you don't have to provide any collateral, such as a bank account or car title.

The interest rates for personal loans vary depending on the lender, and as of Jan. 25, 2023, the average rates range from 10.6 percent to over 30 percent. The interest rate you receive, if you qualify, depends on various factors, such as your credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

You can use a personal loan for almost any purpose, such as consolidating debt or financing home improvement projects. However, some lenders may not allow you to use the funds for post-secondary education expenses, real estate, or investments.

To obtain a personal loan, it is important to:

  1. Calculate the numbers.
  2. Check your credit score.
  3. Consider your options.
  4. Choose the type of loan you want.
  5. Shop around for the best interest rates on personal loans.
  6. Select a lender and submit your application.
  7. Provide the necessary documentation.
  8. Accept the loan and start making payments.

What information to have before applying for a loan

Before you apply for a personal loan, it is important to gather all the necessary documents and information to ensure a smooth and efficient process, and to receive your funds as quickly as possible.

Here are the items you may need:

  1. Two forms of personal identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, Military ID, certificate of citizenship, Social Security card, birth certificate, or passport.
  2. Proof of income, such as W-2s, paystubs, 1099s, bank statements, and tax returns.
  3. Information about your employer, including the company name, your manager's name, and phone number.
  4. Proof of residence, such as a utility bill with your name and address or a lease agreement, mortgage statement, proof of insurance (auto, home, or rental), a property tax receipt, or a voter registration card.

How to get a personal loan in 8 steps


There are numerous reasons to consider getting a personal loan, such as an unforeseen medical bill or a necessary car repair. If you have determined that a personal loan is the appropriate form of financing for your needs, you can follow these eight steps to apply.

1. Run the numbers

It is crucial to run the numbers before applying for a personal loan. Neither you nor the lenders want you to take out a loan that you can't afford to pay back. While lenders generally ensure that you have the means to repay the loan, it is wise to calculate your own figures to confirm that it will work out for you.

To begin, determine the amount of money you require, taking into account that some lenders charge an origination fee, which they subtract from your loan amount. Ensure that you borrow enough to cover your needs after the fee is deducted.

Use a personal loan calculator to estimate your monthly payment. It can be challenging to calculate this if you're uncertain about the interest rates and repayment terms offered by lenders, but you can experiment with the figures to get an estimate of the loan's overall cost and determine if it is within your budget.

In summary, before applying for a personal loan, determine if the lender charges an origination fee, and if so, find out the amount. Figure out the amount of cash you need after the fees have been deducted and calculate a monthly payment that you can afford without difficulty.

2. Check your credit score

To assess your likelihood of repaying a loan, most lenders will perform a credit check. While some online lenders have begun examining alternative credit data, they usually still take into account your credit score.

The best personal loans typically require a fair credit score, usually ranging between 580 and 669. A good or excellent credit score above 670 provides the best chance of approval with a competitive interest rate.

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from, which provides a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus every 12 months. Check for any inaccuracies on the report. If you discover errors, contact the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) to have them corrected.

If you have a low credit score for other reasons, you may still be eligible for a loan, but the interest rates and fees may be prohibitively high. Therefore, take measures to improve your credit before applying.

Takeaway: Assessing your credit score provides a rough estimate of your eligibility for a loan. The higher your credit score, the greater your chances of being approved for a loan with a lower interest rate.

3. Consider your options

Depending on your creditworthiness, you may require a co-signer to be approved for a personal loan with a reasonable interest rate. If you are unable to secure a co-signer, or the lenders you are considering do not permit co-signers, you may want to consider a secured personal loan instead of an unsecured one.

Secured loans necessitate collateral, such as a car, a house, or money in a savings account or certificate of deposit, in return for more favorable loan terms. If you fail to repay the loan, the lender can take possession of the collateral to repay the debt.

In addition, you must decide where to obtain a personal loan. For instance, if you have poor credit, you may have difficulty being approved by traditional banks. However, some online lenders specialize in working with bad-credit borrowers, and some credit unions offer short-term loans that serve as a low-cost alternative to payday loans.

If you do not meet the typical eligibility requirements, and your purchase can wait, it would be beneficial to take some time to improve your credit score so that you can qualify for a loan with better terms.

Takeaway: If you are unable to meet the eligibility requirements for a reasonable interest rate, and you need a loan right away, a co-signer, a bad-credit loan, or a secured loan may improve your chances of approval.

4. Choose your loan type

After considering your credit situation and available options, it's important to determine the type of loan that suits your needs. While some lenders are flexible and don't restrict how you use the funds, others may require that the loan be used for specific purposes.

For instance, one lender may allow you to take out a personal loan to finance your small business, while another lender may not permit the use of borrowed funds for business purposes at all. To avoid any issues, it's recommended to find a lender that is comfortable with your intended use of the loan.

You have the option to search the Bankrate personal loan marketplace for various types of loans, including:

- Debt consolidation loans: Personal loans are commonly used for consolidating existing debts into a single loan, resulting in lower monthly payments and potentially lower interest rates.

- Credit card refinancing loans: Companies like Payoff specialize in loans for individuals seeking to pay off their credit card debt. Since personal loan rates are often lower than credit card rates, taking out a loan may be a beneficial way to pay off your credit card balance over a longer period.

- Home improvement loans: If you need to pay for a significant renovation upfront without securing a home equity loan, a home improvement loan may be a good option.

- Medical loans: Since medical expenses can be unpredictable, a personal loan can help alleviate the immediate financial burden and allow you to pay off the debt over a few years.

- Emergency loans: Emergency loans can serve various purposes, such as covering unexpected expenses like car repairs, smaller medical bills, or burst pipes.

- Wedding loans: Many people use personal loans to cover the expenses of weddings and vacations, spreading payments over several years instead of paying for the occasion all at once.

In summary, search for a lender that provides loans designed specifically for your needs.

5. Shop around for the best personal loan rates

To secure the best possible interest rate, it's advisable to take some time and shop around before settling for the first loan offer you receive. You should compare several lenders and loan types to gain an understanding of what you qualify for.

Typically, personal loan offers can be obtained from banks, credit unions, and online lenders. If you're a long-time account holder with your bank or credit union, it may be worth checking with them first. Often, demonstrating a history of making positive financial decisions can help them overlook recent credit issues or offer you a better rate.

Certain online lenders provide a prequalification process, where you can get prequalified with a soft credit check that won't affect your credit score. Check with the lenders you're considering to see if they offer this option. Utilize this to gain a comprehensive understanding of the rates available to you.

Lenders that don't offer prequalification usually conduct hard credit inquiries during the loan application process. To minimize the impact of these inquiries on your credit score, it's best to do your rate shopping within 45 days, as they will be counted as a single inquiry for credit-scoring purposes.

In summary, to get the best interest rate, it's crucial to compare multiple lenders and loan types. Check for prequalification options to avoid credit impacts, and limit hard inquiries by shopping within a 45-day period. Avoid settling for the first offer and take the time to find the best deal.

6. Pick a lender and apply

Once you've conducted your research, you should select the lender with the best offer that meets your needs and begin the application process.

The application process can be done entirely online, depending on the type of lender you choose. However, some lenders may require you to apply in person at a local bank or credit union branch.

Each lender has specific requirements for the application, but you'll typically need to provide your name, address, contact details, employment and income information, and the reason for the loan. You'll also need to state how much you want to borrow, and the lender may offer you a few options to consider after conducting a soft credit check. It's important to review the complete terms and conditions of the loan, including fees and repayment period, to avoid hidden fees and other potential pitfalls.

In summary, every lender has unique qualification requirements and may request different information. Some lenders allow online applications, while others may require you to apply in-person. It's important to carefully review the loan agreement and terms to avoid any issues.

7. Provide necessary documentation

Every lender has different requirements for the application process. Once you've submitted your application, the lender will likely request additional documentation from you. This may include uploading or faxing a copy of your latest pay stub, driver's license, or proof of residence.

The lender will inform you of the required documentation and how to submit it to the appropriate person. Providing the necessary information promptly can speed up the decision-making process.

In summary, be prepared to provide additional documentation as requested during the loan application process. To expedite the process, gather your pay stubs, driver's license information, proof of residence, and W-2s in advance. Submit all required documentation promptly to the lender to receive your decision as soon as possible.

8. Accept the loan and start making payments

Once your loan application has been approved by the lender, you will need to finalize the loan agreement by accepting the terms and signing the documents. The loan funds are typically disbursed within a week, although some online lenders may provide them within just one or two business days.

After you have received the loan funds, it's important to keep track of your payment due dates and consider setting up automatic payments from your checking account to avoid missing any payments. Some lenders even offer interest rate discounts for borrowers who set up autopayments.

It's a good idea to consider paying extra on your monthly payments to pay off the loan early and save on interest charges. Even adding a small amount to your monthly payments can help you pay off your loan faster.

Takeaway: Once you've received the loan funds, be responsible with your payments and consider paying extra to pay off the loan early and save on interest charges.

Read More: How To Get Free Money on Cash

Tips for speeding up the process


If you're in need of a personal loan and want to receive the funds quickly, there are several steps you can take to avoid delays in the application process:

- Check your credit report: Before you start shopping for personal loans, make sure to check your credit report. Having good credit can make it easier to qualify for a personal loan at a lower interest rate. Correcting any errors on your report can also prevent problems during the loan application process.

- Pay off debt: If you have outstanding debt, consider paying some of it off before applying for a personal loan. Reducing your debt can increase your chances of approval by improving your credit score and lowering your debt-to-income ratio.

- Talk to your existing financial institution: If you have a positive, long-standing relationship with your bank or credit union, consider applying for a personal loan with them. They may be more willing to approve your loan application.

- Get prequalified: Look for lenders that offer a prequalification process that won't impact your credit score. This can give you an idea of the rates and terms you might be eligible for before you apply.

- Consider online lenders: Online lenders often offer next-day loan decisions, and the funds may be deposited directly into your bank account within a few days of approval.

- Pick up loan funds in person: If your lender has a physical location, check if you can pick up the loan funds at the branch to receive the money faster.

How to find the best personal loan rates


To find the most suitable personal loan for your financial needs, it's important to compare rates, terms, and fees from various lenders. You can accomplish this by visiting individual lenders' websites or by using an online marketplace that lets you prequalify for multiple loans simultaneously without affecting your credit.

Bottom Line

If you've determined that a personal loan is the right choice for your financing needs, make sure to crunch the numbers to ensure you can handle the debt. It's also a good idea to check your credit score beforehand to get an idea of where you stand and increase your chances of approval and securing a lower rate.

Next, compare rates, terms, and fees from different lenders to find the best deal for your specific financial situation. Once you've identified the lender that best meets your borrowing needs, gather all necessary documentation and complete the personal loan application either online or in person.

Read More: What Increases Your Total Loan Balance?


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